This sounds like "You Stuff"
I want to take you back to a simpler time in our very recent history: A time when David Bowie and Prince still sashayed across these great united states; Before Kanye was labeled in all of our minds forever as a #fingersinthebootyassbitch, and the concept of Pokemon Go was a childlike dream. It was January. The upcoming 2016 new year was filled with such promise, hope, and dedication to our "new year, new me" mantra. Everyone was ready for the excitement and wonder that 2016 would bring. We were going to improve our relationships, work harder at being better, and finally lose that 20 pounds that has been sticking by our side since 2013. Now that we have passed the halfway mark, it has become abundantly clear that 2016 can officially be labeled a garbage year. It seems that we have all given up on this search for self-improvement and growth. Maybe it is the constant mention of a certain orange, pussy ass fuckboi running for president with his brigade of mindless white devil zombies waving a confederate flag behind him that is turning us all against each other. Or our overwhelming daily dedication to combing through the barrage of fake articles and shady opinions on our many social media platforms. Or maybe it is the never ending reports of increased terrorism and violence elegantly paired with a massive decrease in self love and celebration. Whatever the reason, I think it is safe to say that 2016 has sucked ass. Like really sucked ass. Like a donkey getting a colonic kind of ass sucking.
Don't worry, this is not going to be another opinionated blog post about the lunacy of "Making America Great Again" or Benghazi E-mails, because there is enough of that out there and honestly, I still don't even know what most of it means. I am here to talk about a new phenomenon that goes hand in hand with this new apathetic change in our country. I call it "You Stuff."
Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone and when you ask what you did wrong in the situation, they don't really have anything to say or they dig around looking for something to be mad about? It usually sounds something like this:
Friend: I'm mad at you.
Me: Why? What did I do?
Friend: I don't know. I just don't feel like you are there for me as a friend
Me: Oh! I'm so sorry. What did I do to make you feel that way?
Friend: Its nothing you DID. It's just that you waited forty five minutes to return my text last week.
Me: I'm sorry, I didnt know you needed me to respond right away to"Sup."
Friend: You also never watched "Stranger Things" and I really need to talk to you about it.
Me: Okay. I'm as thrilled as the next guy at Winona's return to the screen, but I didn't think it was a pressing issue. I'm sorry. Why that is upsetting you so much...?
Friend: It's fine. It's just ALSO that you have been spending so much time with your boyfriend and not enough time with me.
...and so on and so on until everyone is crying and life is terrible. We have all had this conversation before. This is a perfect example of "you stuff." My "friend" in this situation is frantically searching for reasons to justify their anger with at me, when in reality, they are upset with their own current situation and subconsciously decide to try to build themselves up by putting me down. This may seem like a normal human condition thing that everyone does, but if you pay attention, you will realize the abundance of this overwhelming social epidemic.
I am going to start addressing this issue with a blanket statement: You are the most important thing in your life. I think every decent person would agree with me that they want to be a good friend, lover, partner, or family member. We all want to show the people we love how much we love them, but the only way you can truly be a good friend is if you are content with YOURSELF and that takes a lot of "me time." "Me time" heals "you stuff." If a "friend" is pressuring you to give up some of the things that make you happy by shaming you into doing what makes them happy, then NO ONE is being a good friend. You solve this conundrum by investing time and attention into yourself and figuring out what makes you happy at the end of the day. Whether you are an artist, or a lawyer or a damn hooker, we all have self discovery that we have to do so that we can share our whole selves with our loved ones. In the hypothetical situation, my "friend" has fallen victim to "you stuff" because they aren't happy. They haven't done enough "me time" to even realize that they aren't happy. They are just watching Stranger Things and getting mad that you dont look at them the way 11 looks at a box of waffles.
My "friend" in the aforementioned scenario is looking for me to provide them with that confidence and validation. I can't do that. Despite how hard I try and the amount of white robes I own, I am not God. I am not responsible for helping my "friend" be okay with the person they are when they put their head on their pillow at night. That responsibility is on them. As the queen of all life, RuPaul says, "If you dont love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?"
Of course, the big fear with all of this is seeming selfish or self involved. "I don't want people thinking that all I care about is myself." Totally valid. No one should be selfish, but investing time and energy into yourself is the opposite of selfish. You are cultivating your own damn garden so you can eventually, because you aren't selfish, share the fruits of your labor with your fellow beloved gardeners. (the garden analogy was a stretch, but you see what I'm saying here right?) We have to care about ourselves first and foremost so that we can give our loved ones the compassion and attention they deserve.
We have been taught the opposite of this. We are taught it is selfish to invest time in yourself and that a true friend is someone who would pass on a big opportunity to run to their friends house and comfort them after discovering they got stood up by a Tinder date. NOPE! SORRY! We all saw how shitty Anne Hathaway's friends are in "The Devil Wears Prada." Dont be no Tracie Thoms! Surround yourself with people that are content with themselves and not jealous of your accomplishments and you will see the abundance of "you stuff" melt away. Of course, this lack of self investment is just the first layer of the complicated parfait that is "you stuff."
The crazy increase in social media in the last five years that has catapulted us from the "mind your business" ideology of our parent's generation into the no walls, open door policy of the world that we are in now has shifted our entire perspective as a civilization. We spend so much more time looking at other people and judging them that we are not looking at our own damn selves and realizing we are guilty of the same things we are judging our friends and family over.
The perfect example of this was this years Olympics in the men's 200m butterfly swim. Chad le Clos of South Africa went head to head with King Triton himself, Michael Phelps. Both were swimming very well until the end when Chad le Clos stopped focusing on his own race and started looking at Phelps instead of keeping his beautiful South African eyes on his own damn lane.
I love this image, because it is proof of a powerful message: There is no way that you can win the race of life if you are busy watching someone else. The only lane you need to worry about is your own, Diva.
I consider myself qualified to talk about "you stuff," because I am a former "you stuff" monster. I spent a long time being a sad person and seeing other people's #blessed posts and rolling my eyes and screen-shotting for the Gods! It all started as a fun and easy way to protect my own insecurity, but I quickly realized that this behavior was the seed in which "you stuff" grew. I know it may be hard to believe, but I am not a doctor or a scientist. However, I do have a BFA in musical theater so you can trust that I am basically a genius when it comes to like psychology and like the way people like think and like feel and stuff? It is my personal hypothesis that if someone is constantly seeing nothing but happiness and overwhelming positivity in their social media, they might start looking at their own life and not feel like they are living up to their best potential. When I was in "you stuff" mode, it felt like everyone was living their best life without me, as I trolled through instagram, eating ramen on the toilet. I have learned after talking to these people IRL that they are just as stressed and concerned about life as I am. The same person posting "I get to marry my best friend" is probably fighting with her "best friend" over something as dumb as a flower arrangement centerpiece. They had the same concerns about money and family and success that I had, the only difference between us was that they had love for themselves and appreciation for the good and the bad, while I convinced myself that I was useless unless I was on Broadway or on a television show.
I was stuck in a pretty dark place where I found myself obsessed with social media and refreshing my feed all day, just to be angry about it. I was just judging everyone that was doing something with their life, because it is simply just easier to judge someone than to do something yourself. I realized that I had started losing friends, showing up late to events, getting into fights with people and just feeling genuinely dumpy about life. It took investing time in myself and finding true joy for others for me to finally get out of the slump. I started spending time alone, signed off of facebook for a bit and started clearing the clutter out of my life. From this, my relationships improved, my appreciation for myself increased and I formed RealiTea with my lovely partner Rachel, so trust and believe, there is a light at the end of the "you stuff" tunnel, but it takes working every day for you to get there. I still struggle with this every time I see someone "on their grind" or "marrying their best friend" or "booking" but I have to stop my eyes from rolling in the back of my head and remember that other people's success is not my failure and for me to avoid going back to that "you stuff" danger area, I have to be aware of my stupid envy and start celebrating the accomplishments of others instead of being a hater.
There is one final aspect of "You Stuff" that is a little bit more of a big picture theory. It has to do with the way the world is working and the sudden lack of empathy and compassion for other people's lives. We seem to have forgotten that we are all members of the human race. An ideology that seems to be fleeting with every Republican convention I watch nowadays. There is one huge factor that affects every problem in America right now and it seems to be the fact that there is one small group of people (I imagine them all sitting in some ridiculously high building in gorgeous sweat shop manufactured power suits, wearing their apple watches that haven't been released yet, counting money, basking in their privilege) using all of the power and influence they have on their own selfish desires to keep getting richer. It is all very Mr. Robot E-Corp.
They are The Plastics of The United States of America. They make the rules and we all follow. These people are incredibly intelligent and have committed, in my opinion, the biggest crime to the American public in my lifetime. They have plotted Americans against each other. Their use of the media and of their influence has allowed them to pit Republicans against Democrats, The rich against the poor, and black lives against blue lives. These people have probably practiced a little too much "me time." To take the attention off of their own selfish behavior, they use their influence to keep us all distracted with the newest fads, inventions and life hacks to ensure that we continue to compare each other and not focus on the unfair displacement of wealth and power in this country. They have thrown us all in the gauntlet to fight while they get to sit on their Brookstone throne giving the thumbs up or thumbs down like some millennial Gladiator knock off.
"You stuff" is a trickle down effect of this problem. As Americans, we know that we are really angry about a lot of things, but we don't know who to be angry with. We have all of this negative energy that needs to go somewhere and we don't have a Toby Flenderson in our HR department to complain to and solve the problem, so instead, we wind up throwing shade at our friends and family. We take our overworked/ underpaid lifestyle and combine that with our new age millennial self involvement to say: "My life isn't fair. Everyone else's life seems fairer than mine. I hate everyone else now. Including my selfish friends who have the audacity to have careers or boyfriends or babies." Instead of finding a better job, relationship, or friendship for you to focus on and feel better about your situation, you decide it is easier to just hold a grudge, be upset with other people and blame your friends and family for your own current shitty life situations.
I want to call for a stop to this garbage behavior by working together. Your friends and family should always support you and be there for you. If this is not the situation, you must change it. Know who your friends are and who your enemies are and treat both accordingly. If you find that you are the one being the hater, if you are mad at your friend for a reason that you can't really wrap your words around, just take a moment. See if this is real or if it is "You stuff." The only way to fix this terrifying problem is to start working on it from the ground floor. The combination of overexposure from social media, combined with the crappy state of our economy, wrapped up in a bow of constantly comparing ourselves to our neighbors is leading to a true lack of empathy, compassion and social stability in our country. Until we fix this problem, "you stuff" will continue to grow and we will all continue to talk AT each other not WITH each other.
So, next time someone comes for you demanding you be a better partner, friend, lover, or sibling, ask yourself, is this real or is this "you stuff." Know the signs of a friend just needing a shoulder to cry on and listen to their problems and provide that shoulder for them. You are lucky enough to be a self confident bad ass star who knows when you're right and when you're wrong. Not everyone else is like that so you have to lead by example. Be proud of the perspective you have on life and try to teach your friends that "you stuff" is real, but can be controlled with "me time" and communication. Life is hard. We don't have to do it all alone. Love your loved ones and don't be a dick to your friends and you will see that one day, blame, envy, "you stuff," all of it will be a part of your past.